Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Butch, the Biker Bear

I had just finished working when I heard a loud racket out front; it sounded like the Hell's Angels were descending on my yard.  I rushed out to see what it was and there was Butch, the Biker Bear.  Apparently Butch and Larry met in New Orleans while they were both there for Mardi Gras and Larry had invited him to "come visit any time" so here he was.  I also found out they'd decided to form a motorcycle club, Mr B's MC and I'm the honorary president, so when do I get my "colors"?  Looks like Butch will be staying for an extended period, so welcome to the garden, Butch!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A tisket, a tasket, a pretty planted basket

I bought some baskets at Michael's on Sunday and got around to using them today.  The first one was added to the handlebars of the scooter that's been in the front yard since last May.  The basket was lined with weed blocker and the filled with red, pink and yellow snapdragons, then attached to the scooter with zip ties.  The drip line was extended to the basket so it doesn't have to be hand watered.

This is my grand kids old tricycle that had seen better days, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it, so I decided to turn it into a planter and after looking at bicycle baskets and deciding they were too expensive, I found some on sale for just $2.50 each.  Like the one added to the handlebars of the scooter, these are lined with weed block fabric and attached with zip ties.  I found a flower I hadn't seen before, Stock, Matthiola incana "Harmony" and decided to plant the baskets with it, as I thought the color would go well the the red and white of the trike.  I need to run a new drip line to the front of the yard to water these baskets and the terra cotta pots on the lamp post as well as the new tipsy planter; looks like a project for the weekend.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gardening at Lunch

Used my lunch hour to plant a few additional flowers, including four Stella d' Oro daylilies in the planter in front of Larry, some Peaches 'n Cream and Heatwave dahlias at the base of the Ein Shemer apple and some Asiatic lilies in the cherry basket I bought earlier.  Last year I planted Heatwave dahlias too late in the spring and only got a few blooms before the sun killed them, so I'm hoping by planting earlier and hopefully getting shade from the apple, they'll have a better chance this year. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My first tipsy planter

I built my first tipsy planter yesterday and put it the front yard for maximum effect.  It consists of a piece of 1/2" rebar 58" long that was salvaged from a demolition project (cost: free), five 8" terra cotta pots from the 99 cent store (cost $5), compost from my pile (cost: free) and 5 six-packs of flowers from Home Depot (cost: $10) for a total cost of $15, but the results are priceless.  I pounded the rebar into the ground, leaving 
36" exposed, slipped the first pot on to it and filled it with compost, then slipped the next pot onto the rebar and tipped it at an angle and filled it as well, repeating the process at opposing angles until all the pots were on the rebar.  The bottom pot was planted with assorted pansies, the next one up has red petunias, the next is filled with yellow pansies, the next has white petunias and the top contains snapdragons.  I'm so happy with the result that others will surely be joining it.  The next one will be be planted entirely in trailing rosemary and I can definitely see one with a variety of succulents.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Making the bulb bed

Here's a pictorial on the making of the bulb bed; first one is my soil sifting rig, which I detailed in the post on planting the Ein Shemer apple.

Next is the partially completed trench, about 1/2 done.

The sifted soil from the trench was placed on a tarp and had to be covered when I wasn't working on the bed to keep the neighborhood cats from using it as a big litter box.

The finished bed, fully planted and mulched.  The trench was lined with weed block fabric to discourage the Bermuda grass, then filled 1/3 of the way with soil, which was then covered with 3 cubic feet of compost.  The bulbs were planted directly into the compost, then dusted with bone meal and covered with soil to within 2" of the top of the plastic edging and topped off with bark mulch. The daffodils are in the center, with tulips on either side; the east end (furthest away in the picture) has gladiolus in back and freesias in the front, while the west end has gladiolus in the back and crocosmia and ranunculus in the front.  Can't wait to see it in bloom.  Solar lights are from the 99 Cent Only Store.

Next up is a revamp of the sunflower bed, which is being expanded, as I have 8 varieties this year.  The current bed is inside an old palm tree stump which has slowly rotted out, except for the outer ring.  I think I'll need my pickaxe and maybe my chainsaw to get that part out.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Finally, the bulb bed is planted (and nearly finished)!!

After epic delays due to weather, work and family obligations, the new bulb bed is finally fully planted and nearly finished.  The plant list is as follows:

Tulips - Darwin Mix - 130
Daffodils - Prince Edward - 45+ (I was able to split some bulbs, so I'm not sure exactly how many there were)
Freesia - Mixed - 35
Ranunculus - Mixed - 20
Crocosmia - "Emberglow" - 10
Gladiolus - 6 each of the following:
Peter Pears, Fiorentina, Super Star, Plumtart, Lavender, Flowersong, Traderhorn and Early Bird

That a total of 280-290 bulbs, which should make for quite a powerful display.  Since I finished planting as darkness approached, pictures will have to wait until tomorrow, after I give the bed a good soaking to allow the soil to settle and then fill in more soil as needed, and finally, mulch it with bark to keep the cats from using the bed as a potty.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Larry's on Twitter!

Larry's on Twitter @Larryscarecrow and he's tweeting up a storm from New Orleans where he's hanging with his fellow scarecrows Mr. T and Marty (who used George's credit card to buy his ticket without his knowledge), having a good time and tearing up the Big Easy.  Just hope they don't end up as characters in James Lee Burke's next Dave Robicheaux novel (shameless plug for my favorite author).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scarecrows Gone Wild

Larry and Chuck are off to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras and Larry vows to get featured on "Scarecrows Gone Wild".  I'm not sure what's in his martini glass, but enough of them and he's bound to get his wish, just don't call me looking for bail money.  Guy's, bring me back some of those beads and a big piece of King Cake, maybe even some beignets from Cafe' du Monde.  Watch out New Orleans, big bad Larry's coming to town!!

Here's an update; Larry just IM'd me to let me know that he met "this really hot chick in the French Quarter and she insisted on swapping hats."  Larry, you're an animal and now you really look ready to party.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


After reviewing the performance of the seed starter, I decided to move it to a sunnier location, as I realized it was in shade for too long in the AM and PM; the new location should get 2-3 times as much sun and I expect the seeds will start sprout at an accelerated pace.  This of course means I'll have to speed up construction of the raised beds to accommodate all those expected seedlings.  I put more seeds in the greenhouse today: Sweet Corn "Sunglow"; Lime Basil; Purple Tomatillo; Peruano Beans, both black and brown varieties; Red Corn; Thyme; Sweet Basil; Tarragon; and Rosemary.

Had rain and temps down to 38 last night, with more rain forecast for tomorrow, as well as more lows in the low 40's, which is good, as Winter has been mild so far and we need more chill hours (hours below 45) for the best production from the Anna apple.

Made a salad for lunch and put some of the giardiniera I made back on 12/2 in it; the vinegar has mellowed and the heat level is just right, so I'd rate this a success.  Now I'll have to try some of the pickled hot peppers and okra I made as well.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hummingbird love

The hummingbirds were back again this afternoon, this time in the front yard while I was working on the new bulb bed.  They came buzzing into the yard, the female landed in the Anna apple tree and the male darted around her flashing his iridescent red throat.  He climbed up to about 40 feet, then hovered while calling out to her to get her attention, then climbed to 80' - 100' and came down in a steep dive right at the tree, pulling up at the same level she was at, then repeated the whole process.  A couple of times he decided to land, once on my son's car antenna, once on the front fence, once on the grape trellis and several times on the satellite dish.  I hurried into the house and managed to get one picture of him before they both left.  A little research determined that it was a pair of Anna's Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) and it was a mating ritual; hope it worked and they decide to build a nest in one of my trees.  How appropriate that they should use an Anna apple tree to stage their display.

Invasion of the Lawn Ornaments

In my last post I mentioned that I had added a Foo Dog to the garden to protect against the invasive gnomes and provided a link to a Youtube video; well, the Foo Dog has been demoted to simple garden ornament status after allowing two gnomes to invade the garden over the weekend.  I found them trying to blend in to the front porch and then noticed they'd invited a couple of pink flamingos to join them.  Hopefully, this isn't the beginning of a full scale invasion.

In all seriousness, the flamingos were added to the Ein Shemer tree well in hopes of detering cats from using the mulch as a potty; if it works, more may pop up throughout the garden.

I witnessed an "invasion" of a more welcome sort yesterday when for once I actually had my camera at the ready.  For the past several weeks I've had a hummingbird visiting the back yard, but never had a camera handy, but yesterday, within a few minutes of refilling the feeder, not one, but two hummers visited the yard!

And, lastly, an update: the Echeveria "Dondo" I planted back in September has its' first pup, so I must be doing something right, as this is only the second succulent I've owned and it seems to be thriving.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

General project updates

The seed greenhouse is doing very well, with lots of stuff sprouting, not alas, no peppers yet.

Here's a cute little Foo Dog I got @ Target on clearance for $2

Looks like I got him just in time, as he's now on "gnome patrol" since the Utah State University Extension Office has declared them an invasive species; see the youtube video link below:

The mini roses I bought at the 99 cent Only store over the past few months are all doing well in the rose bed.

I shaped a Japanese Boxwood for another attempt at Bonsai a few months ago and decided it was doing well enough to trim the roots and plant it in a Bonsai pot; let's hope this one does better and lasts longer than my previous attempts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The many moods of Larry

Not much happening in the garden right now, mostly just waiting for the seeds to sprout, though I'm still harvesting peppers and snow peas.  The Ein Shemer is starting to get some leaves, so it seems to have made it through the transplant okay.  Some of the bulbs are pushing up, so hopefully blooms aren't too far away.

Since there's so little to report, I thought I'd take a look back at Larry's many moods since he came to live in the front yard back in August of 2011, so without further ado, here's Larry!

Chilling on the golf course in August
Celebrating Labor Day
Hunting in September
Celebrating the Harvest in October
Scaring up good times @ Halloween
Honoring the troops on Veteran's Day
Bringing home dinner @ Thanksgiving
Looking for Santa
Delivering the Baby New Year
Heading off to Aspen for Winter Sports
Spreading the love for Valentine's Day
There's almost enough shots for a calendar; think he'll have one for 2013, as long as the Mayans are wrong about that whole end of the world thing in December.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cupid Larry (and other stuff)

Larry and Chuck are finally back from Aspen and they're giving a big "shout out" to all the lovers out there and a special 'shout out" to all the lovely ladies featured in Flea Market Gardening's Facebook ( photo album, Meet the Garden People! (you know who you are).

Did a litlle thrift store/yard sale shopping and found the following goodies: a gorgeous gallon sized fruit basket, $3; a wooden plant stand to hold my grapevine basket of Amaryllis and Paperwhites, $7.50; a pair of corbels that'll get hung on the front porch to hold potted plants, $4; and a wrought iron candle stick that'll probably hold the penny covered bowling ball I plan to make (Thanks Kirk Willis for the idea).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Garden happenings: 2-1-12

The seed greenhouse is working out pretty well, as the corn is already sprouting and even after being gone for almost three days the soil was still a little moist.  Today I added a couple of shallow trays of water for added humidity as an insurance policy.  I also seeded Japanese Shishito Sweet Peppers, Purple Ball and Petch Siam Oriental Eggplants, Pickler One Pickling Cucumbers Stickless Wonder Yardlong Beans, all purchased from Evergreen Seeds @ which is a great source for all kinds of Oriental herb and vegetable seeds.  Rather than just direct sowing sunflowers this year, I decided to start them in trays as I have seven different varieties: wild sunflowers from the side of the road that get 3'-4'; a dwarf sunflower which only gets 8"-10" tall (I don't know the name of this one); Mammoth, which grows 7'-8', one I got from my neighbor which also gets 7'-8' (also don't know the name of this one); Citrus which gets 5'-6'; and Velvet Queen & Florenza, both 4'-5'.  They'll be planted under the birdhouse to provide a ready supply of food.

The Ultra Red Stripe and Picotee petunias I bought several weeks ago have finally decided to bloom and they were well worth the wait, although it's apparent that not all the plants in the Picotee six pack were actually Picotees.

I also harvested my first Snow Peas and a few more Sweet 100 tomatoes and used them in tonight's dinner.